This Ruined Puzzle
Another glorious day at Hollywood Arts High. That's not sarcasm, although it might sound like it. It's lunchtime right now, but our group isn't gathered at our usual table. Cat, Andre, Robbie and I have decided to go to this new Mexican place that just opened up.
"Yo, I heard that the burritos at Luisa's taste like they were made by angels," Andre is saying.
"Ooh, I love angels," Cat squeals, causing me to laugh. Typical Cat.
"I doubt that," Robbie says, "It's just one of a million Mexican places here. What makes you think this one's any better than the others."
"Man, a friend of mine ate there last week," Andre insists, "He said the food there was second to none."
"You know," I tell the two of them, "Instead of standing here arguing over how good the food is, we could just go there ourselves and find out." They all nod and I let out a sigh of relief. Being part of our little group certainly has been interesting lately. So with the burrito dispute averted, we start heading off campus. As we walk, I noticed something that seems out of place: Jade is sitting against one of the outer walls of the school, with her knees hugged up against her chest. It doesn't seem right to me, since Jade typically has her own lunch crowd, whether it's us or someone else. It's not like her to be alone.
"Hey guys," I say to the others, "Why don't you go ahead? I have to take care of something."
"Are you sure?" Cat asks, "We only have a little time to eat you know."
"Don't worry," I tell her, "I'll catch up. Just go ahead." The others nod and start to walk off. In the meantime, I head over to where Jade is sitting. "Hey there," I say to her.
"What do you want?" she asks, looking up at me. Her voice isn't as angry as I anticipated, but I'm still getting the impression that she isn't happy to see me.
"Just to talk," I say, "It's not like you to be sitting alone at lunch. Not to mention that you're not eating."
"What does it matter to you?" Jade asks bitterly.
"I just wanted to see if everything is all right," I say carefully, trying not to come off as too confrontational.
"You're weird," she says, giving me a strange look.
"Really?" I ask laughing, "How so?"
"Well, I've done nothing but be cruel to you since you got to this school and you come over here to see if I'm okay," she said.
"Well, it hasn't been all bad," I tell her with a smile, "Cleaning up the auditorium together was kind of fun. Of course, we did have to do three extra detentions for bailing on it, but still." Jade suddenly laughs. "What's so funny?" I ask her.
"I just don't get you," she says, "None of this makes any sense."
"Well, what kind of person would I be if I thought you were suffering and didn't come over to see if you were all right?" I ask her.
"You'd be normal," she tells me, "That's how normal people treat the ones who hurt them."
"Normal is overrated," I tell her, mimicking what Andre said to me on my first day.
"Well, whatever," she says, giving me a hard stare, "I don't feel like talking about this with you." Just after she says this, her stomach starts to growl.
"Fine," I say, "But why don't you come to Luisa's with me? You need to eat something." I reach down with one hand, offering to help her up.
"I don't really want to go anywhere," she says, looking away from me.
"If you're going to skip meals, I'll report you to the guidance counselor," I tell her, "I'm sure you don't want to be a blip on his radar." Jade gives me a defiant look, which I return with one of my own. Eventually, her face softens and she gives a resigned sigh.
"Fine," she says, reaching up to grab my hand. I tug her to her feet and begin to lead the way.
Tori Vega. I cannot figure that girl out. I mean, no matter how mean I am to her, it's like she doesn't care. That time I framed her for injuring me and she found out, she took detention rather than rat me out. She even helped me out with the Beck situation and that was after I said that she wasn't cool. She didn't even mind when I got a makeup stain on the pillow that her grandmother made for her. I suppose the right thing to do would be to thank her for putting up with all of my drama, but I'm no t really sure how. Gratitude isn't really my specialty. Oh well. Here goes everything.
"Hey Vega," I call out to her. I immediately regret it. My voice sounds shaky and nervous.
"Tori," she corrects me, pausing to look back at me.
"Right. Tori," I say back, "Listen, I just want to say thank you. You know, for dealing with all of the stuff I put you through." I think she's going to laugh at me as soon as the words come out of my mouth, but to my surprise she doesn't. She just shakes her head at me.
"It's really no big deal," she says, "I mean, it's like I told you before: neither of us are going to have any fun at school if we're just fighting all the time." I don't answer that statement. Instead I just follow along silently, staring down at my boots and thinking. Should I really tell her what's on my mind? Maybe. To her credit, she is the only one who has actually asked. It doesn't seem like any of my usual crowd is interested. They're all too busy being wrapped up in their own lives. But right now I haven't got the guts to ask her. Maybe I will after my stomach stops growling.
"Hey Tori," I say, and she turns back to me once again, "If you tell anyone about that thank you I just gave you, I'll knock your teeth out."
"Duly noted," she says, and this time she does laugh, "My lips are sealed." I nod silently and keep walking. Eventually, Luisa's comes into view and I follow Tori inside silently.